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The Ingredients that Inspired Chef Abram Bissell

The highly-decorated chef of Principe restaurant in New York City recalls the five ingredients of his Florida Keys upbringing that inspire his cooking.

10:23 AM EDT on August 24, 2023

Abram Bissell is the Executive Chef & Founding Partner of Principe in New York City. Chef Abram was raised in Islamorada, Florida Keys, where he developed a passion for a life lived on the water and began his work in the kitchen in simple fish shacks. He then went on to learn about agriculture and sourcing pristine ingredients in California, about world class excellence while earning three Michelin stars at Eleven Madison Park, and about everyday luxury helming the kitchen of The NoMad. While Executive Chef of Danny Meyer’s The Modern, in Midtown Manhattan, he earned an additional two Michelin stars. Abram’s passions and experience form the foundation Principe’s offerings: the pursuit of greatness, a sense of place, and thrilling his guests every day. His journey and his heritage shape the food on his plate: product driven, creative, and undeniably delicious. Chef Abram has shared his unique take on our recurring “Five Dishes” column as he has provided ingredients as opposed to dishes that have impacted his decision to be a chef. Works for us!

Goat Cheese

Growing up we did not shop at grocery stores very often. My mom took us to co-ops for vegetables and essentials, and we only ate meat during special occasions. A close family friend would bring us goat cheese when she traveled, and it was a very special treat for me. To this day, fresh goat or sheep milk cheese is still very special. We now serve a house made goat’s milk cheese with our bread service at Principe.

Sunday “Gravy” Meats

Sunday gravy, a tradition for many Italian-American immigrant families, was part of any special occasion meal during my upbringing. With this, I learned poverty is often the greatest inspiration for great food. Sunday gravy is what Italian immigrants made with small amounts of leftover meats from butcher shops.  Slow-cooked with preserved tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and served with almost any shape pasta.

Key Limes

The Key lime was a major part of the island I grew up on. We would pick them off trees in the summer and add them to our ice water. When I got older and started cooking, we used them for everything. A simple ceviche when we got home from fishing or squeezed over a piece of fried mahi-mahi in our backyard. The fresh acidity taught me how to balance flavors.

Black Truffles

I didn't taste truffles until I was in my early 20s, but I was immediately in love. The deep, complex earthy flavor and luxury that was attached to the tuber became an instant favorite. I now love to combine the simple pastas I learned from my mom with truffles.


One of my favorite childhood memories was when my mom would juice carrots for us. We did not get sugar very often, and a cold glass of carrot juice was a special treat. That love of carrots has been a major influence on menus at any of my restaurants. The carrot is not usually thought of as a feature of any dish, but we have found creative ways to show the potential of this vegetable.

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